India’s satisfaction over Chinese withdrawing forces from Doklam will come to naught, if the Communist giant really had some hand in the abnormal increase in turbidity of Brahmaputra waters. It’s been going for nearly two months. The phenomenon was first visible around two months ago in Siang river, the major tributary of Brahmaputra river that flows down into three countries — China, India and Bangladesh — before merging into Bay of Bengal. It was Ninong Ering, the Congress MP from Arunachal East, who first flagged the issue by writing a letter to the Prime Minister urging him to raise it in international forum. Then followed the numerous reports coming from all along the course of Siang and Brahmaputra.
Guwahati, the heart of North-east, is already shaken by reports of its potable water sourced from Brahmaputra getting highly contaminated. Households complained of receiving whitish water. Eyewitnesses, who are used to see much clearer water of the ‘red river’ during this time, are shocked to see highly muddy water of the Brahmaputra in Guwahati. Even the water transport authorities in Guwahati recorded more time taken by ferries to cross the river due to the abnormal increase in turbidity of the river. The department expressed concern over the high consumption of diesel by the ferries due to the phenomenon. Meanwhile, fishermen — thousands depend on the mighty river for livelihood — have complained having much lower catch this time compared to earlier years. The Arunachal MP already complained about D Ering wildlife sanctuary having seen no migratory birds, a usual sight, so far.
It’s been a war-like situation with a large population and flora and fauna getting affected by the abnormal phenomenon of the river. Sadly, the Central government is not seen giving due importance to the issue. One Assam government minister said it was due to the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that rocked Tibet region on November 18. His basis of the claim is unknown even as the Arunachal MP and others are unconvinced. How can an earthquake in Tibet has such long-term effect spreading across hundreds of miles for weeks, if not months, together? There are many more possibilities such as China digging the Yarlung Zangbo river bed to construct massive dam or long underground tunnel, reports of which were earlier denied by the secretive nation. Hope the Modi-led government is able to maintain its ‘strong’ image by digging the truth soon and allay the fear of Assam and entire North-east.
Published as The Meghalaya Guardian as editorial on December 8, 2017